Sudden environmental shifts could lead African nations to struggle even harder to produce staple crops and access potable water.
Climate change threatens the entire world, but there are few places that will be hit harder than Africa. According to a report from the BBC, countries throughout the massive continent face a “climate deadline” before it’s too late to save some of the most important staple crops from being completely wiped out.
A study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change and written by Julian Ramirez0Villegas from the University of Leeds and funded by the CGIAR research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), lays out key timelines for certain nations to take quick action to address the need for massive food system shifts so that impacts on food security could be minimized.
Agriculture is one of the main drivers of economic prosperity in developing countries, and food security is a basic human need that is already difficult for a number of countries to meet. The study estimates that there are currently 800 to 850 million undernourished people on the planet.
The study focused on the need to adapt to climate change “if food production is to be increased in both quantity and stability to meet food security needs during the 21st Century.”
Ramirez told the BBC that instead of focusing on what nations could do in a certain time, the study sought to lay out a range of options that could be placed under a deadline to lead to real results.
The main focus of the study were nine areas in sub-Saharan Africa where agricultural techniques will need a massive overhaul to save staple crops in the face of a changing climate. The study found that six of the nine crops assessed were “stable in respect to transformation and adaptation.”
Three crops, however, will likely need to be transformed to survive in an environment changed by global warming – bananas, beans, and maize. Climate change is expected to shift the range of these crops, leaving entire populations that rely on them out of luck unless they can adapt to new crops.
A news release describing the details of the study can be found here.